Friday, April 11, 2014

NYC: Basta Pasta, Japanese-Fusion Pastas

When talking about uni dishes in Manhattan, the Linguine ai Ricci di Mare (Uni Pasta) at Basta Pasta often comes up. So I figured it was about time that I gave it a try. I had a few friends visiting and we were able to get a last minute reservation for 4 at around 8PM on a Friday night. Not bad.
Overall, the atmosphere was nice and easy going, but nothing really stood out besides a huge wheel of cheese that you can get your pasta dipped into, and the uni pasta. The food here is not too remarkable. If you're looking for a memorable Italian meal, you won't find it here. The dishes are simple and tasty, but they lack the bold flavors you might find in your typical Italian dishes. Guess that's where the clean Japanese-fusion flavors come into play.

 I feel bad for bringing my visitors here since I always want to show my friends the very best of New York eats! Not much would compel me to go back unless I was really craving uni pasta, but then I might just go cough up the extra $13 to have an uni Italian dish at Marea instead.

Enough talk, here's what we ordered:
Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage Cream Sauce - $10

Grilled Squid, Homemade Sausage Stuffed with Curry Risotto, Raisins & Prosciutto - $13

Linguine alla Pescatore - Linguine with Clams, Mussels, Shrimp, Squid & Scallops - $23

Ravioli with Veal, Prosciutto, mozzarella and parmesan sauce - $17

Tagliolini with Chilean Sea Bass ragu, capers, shredded zucchini & spicy tomato sauce - $18

Linguine ai Ricci di Mare - with Fresh Sea Urchin, pink sauce & basil - $20

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Easy Thai Mango Cucumber Salsa + Tilapia

I've been a busy girl this past weekend. First, I received a last minute invite to the New York City Police Foundation's Gala at the beautiful Waldorf Astoria. Then, the next night, a blogger's sleepover at Citizen M. After an early weekend of indulgence, all I want was a light homemade dinner.

Since I've been out, my fridge was looking pretty empty. Luckily, I had a package of fish that I was defrosting - fish I was supposed to have for dinner on the night of the gala. Score! You see, The Saucy Fish Co. reached out to me recently to ask if I wanted to try their line of fresh fish and sauce pairings. They're a UK based company, launching their range of fish in the US this year. I'll posting a final review once I've tried more of them, but today this pack of thawing fish definitely came to the rescue (and delicious to boot!)

So here I was with their package of tilapia fillet paired with a mango & chili sauce and nothing really to eat the fish with. Usually I would just make rice, but as I'm trying to keep my diet relatively carb-free, I had to brainstorm harder. Somehow, I also managed to have some tomatoes, a mango (strangely), and some cucumbers left in the fridge.

And then hit me: Mango + Cucumber + Sauce = Mango Salsa! Don't you love it when things just work out?

Now, this might sound a bit silly, but the idea of making this dish got me really excited.  I've seen this dish prepared time and time again, but never been motivated enough to execute it on my own. I've never made mango salsa before, and have never bought tilapia to cook.

Monday, April 7, 2014

citizenM's Blogger Sleepover, a Staycation in the Coolest Hotel!

Happy Monday everyone! citizenM hotels hosted a Blogger's Sleepover this past Friday to promote the grand opening of their newest hotel in Manhattan. citizenM is an Amsterdam based boutique hotel chain that is not only super trendy and chic, but still (relatively) wallet friendly. Their new Time Square location marks their first hotel in the US, with another one coming in LES in a few months.

citizenM prides themselves in being a bit untraditional and tech-forward. They want to bring "affordable luxury to the people" and to do that, they're removing some typical hotel operation costs. You won't find bellhops or check-in desks here. Only a screen to greet you and an easy system for you to use to check in and get your room key. No problem here, those are services I don't really need.

The hotel lobby is a huge open space that's furnished more like a fun place to hang out than your typical hotel lobby. I really loved the floor to ceiling bookshelves that were filled with all kinds of knick knacks.
So right after work on Friday, J and I packed a bag and hopped in a cab to Midtown (50th and Broadway). citizenM is really in the middle of all the action and I feel is a great location for a tourist to stay. It's right by all the essential subway lines (B, C, E, 1, N, Q, R), across the street from a bunch of Broadway Shows and is where all the action is. Not to mention, it's right by Totto Ramen and Sake Bar Hagi, so that's already a winner in my book.

I've frequented enough tiny hotel rooms in San Francisco and New York to know a good use of space when I see one. The decor of my room at citizenM reminds me of stylish Swedish design at it's best. Every inch of design has a purpose in function while still being delightful. One of the things they pride themselves in is that they offer King-sized beds in the room - which is definitely a plus.

In true New York City shoe-box fashion, the bed is tucked at the end of the room and basically occupies the room from wall to wall. citizenM manages to make this space feel very welcoming, and I'm not only saying this because they gave me a free room to stay in for the night.

One of the most exciting features of the room is the mood-lighting in the shower and how the shower is sectioned off relative to the rest of the room. As you can see in the awesome GIF above, the shower is shaped in a semi-circle with plastic material that actually acts as a wall partition. This helps maximize the space in the room since there's no wasted wall space. Oh, the huge shower head made for a fun shower as well.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

NYC: The Mermaid Inn for the Happiest Oyster Happy Hour

Believe it or not, I have a bad habit of going back to the same restaurants over and over again. I know, I know, what kind of food blogger am I when there are so many new places to explore and try in the city? So this spring, J and I are making a commitment to step out of our comfort zone and try more new places more often.

Since it's finally getting warmer, I'm trying to be less of a homebody and there's nothing that can get me out of the apartment faster than the promise of a good happy hour.

The Mermaid Inn has been on top of my happy hour lists for a while now. I love me some $1 oysters, and Mermaid Inn has other good eats available during their daily happy hours: 5-7pm Monday to Friday, and 4-7pm Saturday & Sunday.

One Sunday Afternoon, we headed over to the Mermaid Inn in the East Village to meet up with a friend. At 5:30, the place was filling up with just a table left for us.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the maritime decor that made the place feel a chic yet homey, if that's possible. Then the waitress placed down THE BEST everything bagel flatbread crackers that made me throw any "eat less white flour" resolution out the window.

Turns out, you can get it in some gourmet food stores and even on Amazon!
We proceeded to order a few cocktails (loved their Dark & Stormy's), two dozens of oysters and clams as well as a few other appetizers. I've been craving clam chowder and their $3 bowls of it was enough to just give me a taste of it without the guilt.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cabaña Las Lilas, The Best Steakhouse (Parrilla) in Buenos Aires

I don’t know about you, but when I travel, I never want to waste stomach capacity on a mediocre meal. There's only so many places a girl can eat! I’ve written about the logistics of my trip to South America and my itinerary, but realized that I haven't talked about my meals yet. Today, let’s look at the best steakhouse (parrilla) in Buenos Aires - Cabaña Las Lilas!

Argentina is a beef capital of the world. With the world's second highest consumption rate of beef, you bet the Argentines know how to cook a mean steak. When I stayed a week in Buenos Aires for work, I was determined to try the best steak in Argentina. There is no shortage of places to eat a steak in Buenos Aires, but during my research, I kept coming across 3 steakhouses: La Cabrera, La Brigada and Cabaña Las Lilas.

Since Cabaña Las Lilas was right by my work, it was first of the three that I tried, and it ended up being the the best in both taste and atmosphere out of the others I've been to. Cabaña Las Lilas is located in Puerto Madero, a beautiful and ritzy area in Buenos Aires, situated right by the water. You can choose to sit right by the water, or inside. Since I was eating by myself this night, I chose to sit by the water so that I could enjoy the view and also people watch.

I was in Buenos Aires for work, so I went to grab dinner right after work at around 8pm. This felt a bit late for me already, but I was surprised to find this popular restaurant empty at this hour. As it turns out, Argentines don't go out for dinner until 10pm or later. The next day, I asked my coworkers why they eat so late. Most say they enjoyed spending time between work and dinner on their hobbies such as getting together to play soccer with their friends before dinner. Fancy that, actually taking time to enjoy your hobbies every day after work!